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Burning Daylight: Paper Bead Necklaces

By Melissa Summers

In summers past, I’ve spent a lot of the time moaning about the endless amounts of daylight I needed to burn with my kids. As evidence please see July of last year and the non-stop stream of craft projects going on in our house and being written about here at the Buzz Off. This summer has been a lot easier and I wish it was because I’m almost 35 and I’m now a nicer, calmer mother who enjoys the endless hours with my kids each summer. Unfortunately that isn’t the case but between my kid’s growing sense of independence and our new (child-filled) neighborhood I haven’t been able to sit down with the kids to do a project of some sort until this week. Even then I was racing to get the project done so the kids could go to a neighbor’s house to swim.

We spent some time at the craft store trying to come up with a project to do together. There was a  paper bead necklace kit from Martha Stewart’s craft line caught my daughter’s eye but it seemed a little silly to me to buy the kit when we have all sorts of extra paper sitting around our house and could reuse all of that.

We came home empty handed and decided to do the project ourselves. Here’s how we made our own paper bead necklace.

This is what you need:

1.Various paper.
You can use any paper you have around the house, construction paper, newspaper, junk mail or even wrapping paper. We used some crafting paper we had in the basement.


3.A Glue Stick

4.Elastic Cord

5.A Wooden Skewer or Straw
Something to roll your paper around, you don’t need this but we found it kept our beads tight.
Cut your paper into strips. If you make your strips triangular you’ll get a more interesting pattern when you roll up your beads.
With the backside (the part of the paper that rolls up inside) face up, apply glue to the thinnest part of your strip down to about the middle.
Starting at the widest part of your paper strip, start rolling your paper around the skewer. If you’re careful to keep each side rolling at the same rate, you’ll end up with an oval bead. This is more important to your anally retentive mother and less important to the nine-year-old crafter.
Paper Bead Necklaces
When you’re all done you’ll have a bead. Make sure you have enough glue on your bead or it will start to come undone.
Paper Bead Necklaces
Do this a lot more times and you’ll have a small pile of beads ready to be strung on your elastic cord.
Paper Bead Necklaces
Now cut your elastic cord to the size you’d like and start stringing on your beads. You can do them randomly or you can have a pattern in mind. We had a very well thought out pattern that involved several failed stringing attempts.
Paper Bead Necklaces
Ta-Da! Now you have your own handmade necklace that is, coincidentally, sort of green (if you reuse paper and don’t just buy new).

We burned just about an hour of daylight working on this project but we could have easily spent more time making more necklaces for friends.

This project really only works for the 10 and up set. My nine-year-old had trouble rolling the paper and got a little frustrated. My seven-year-old didn’t want a necklace to begin with and would have had trouble making the beads.

The Martha Stewart kit we were inspired by came with the self adhesive paper strips which would be quite handy. However, it seems a little wasteful to me when we have so much paper just sitting around our house for this project. I think to make your beads especially strong and to keep them from unraveling it might be a good idea to coat them in Mod Podge once they’re all rolled up. Let them dry and then string them onto your cord.

Overall this is a nice project for older kids, not so much for little ones.

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • SSU

    July 29, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Maybe some double-sided adhesive would work to make it easier. I know it comes in sheets and in a tape form. The sheets might be best because you could apply it before cutting. But the tape is more readily available and probably cheaper.

  • shellbelle78

    July 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    A woman at our farmer’s market makes these and mixes them with beads to make necklaces, bracelets and earrings that are very pretty. We had her make a necklace using pages from a catalog we wrote the copy for to give to the client as a gift – it was very well received. Her beads are smaller and definitely glazed with something. Very pretty – great idea!

  • LizP

    July 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Mod podge works very well to seal the beads. It’s fun to make them from magazine pages because the colours are sort of random-ish.

  • mim

    July 29, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Neat idea! This is just like Beads for Life:)

  • melissaS


    July 29, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    mim: I *love* those. I can’t wait to show my daughter, she’ll be inspired.

  • Kim N

    July 30, 2008 at 4:38 am

    My four year old and seven year old daughter and I made these today. The four year old needed a lot of help, but she loved being a part of it. The seven year old needed some help, but said it was the coolest craft we have ever done. I finally made her stop after two and a half hours of gluing and rolling. Tomorrow we will make the necklaces.

  • amyp

    July 30, 2008 at 8:39 am

    I really like this idea, and can totally identify with the control freak mom impulses.
    One of my biggest challenges is in letting my kids make things without my interference.

  • bella

    July 30, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I’ve made simpler (and much less anally retentive) versions of this with little girls as young as five using paper from magazines (a little thinner and easier to work with) and tape. They certainly don’t turn out as pretty as this, but it has been very successful for me. They don’t look like real jewelry like Maddie’s do, but it burns daylight! Nice work.

  • Dana

    July 30, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I used to LOVE making these when I was a kid. I made so many of them one summer that my mom dipped each of them in lacquer, strung them, and used them for garland on our Christmas tree…and now…probably 15 years later…she still uses that same string of garland…and it’s held up really well!
    [Ed Note: AWESOME idea!]

  • Cindy Ericsson

    August 4, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Someone mentioned this is just like Beads for Life. They use magazine pages for theirs and string them using various beads. The paper beads are very pretty strung with glass seed beads. Depending on how wide and long the strips are, you can make different shaped beads. I’ve made some with pages from old Japanese pulp novels, then painted them with a very sheer paint. You could maybe use fingernail polish you were tired of for this.